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As Forrest General Hospital’s Marketing and Communications Director and Digital Marketing Manager, Michelle Leslie and Matt Bush are responsible for their social media program — which encompasses social media pages for five hospitals that make up Forrest Health, including 13 Facebook pages, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages.

According to Matt, Forrest General Hospital’s current goal on social media is to be a community health evangelist.

“Community health is a big driver for us,” he said. “We post a lot of hospital classes and events as event pages on Facebook to raise awareness.”

Matt said a lot of the content they post outside of events is around campaigns they’re running, such as promoting new services and technologies, recruitment, or topics that are relevant to consumers in Forrest General Hospital’s 19-county service area.

One of the team’s key focus areas is the hospital’s Spirit of Women program.

“There are approximately 8,000 women in our membership program,” Michelle said. “Spirit of Women is a national organization providing health education to women and encouraging them to take action for their health. We’re the exclusive Spirit of Women provider in Mississippi.”

As part of Spirit of Women, Forrest General Hospital sets up events to provide entertainment and health-focused information to the organization’s members. “These are open to the public,” she said. “But Spirit of Women members receive discounted rates to events.”

Matt explained they have their own Facebook page for the Spirit of Women program, and they use it as the originator for most content, then syndicate it across the hospital’s other pages.

They recently began developing partnerships with micro influencers to target some of the hospital’s different demographics.

“A year and a half ago, we started using micro influencers to raise awareness for our women and children’s service lines,” Matt said. “One is a traditional mommy blogger, Kristen Schroder, who’s very popular with the young and trendy crowd on Instagram. In the past, we also partnered with a local influencer in our town, Catherine Strange, who shares home, garden, and entertaining ideas.”

They partner with Schroder on blog posts and Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts. And, they worked with Strange on physical events as part of the Spirit of Women program.

“The events we did together were very well attended,” said Matt. “And, with Kristen, we saw a lot of engagement, specifically on Instagram and on her blog posts. She also recently had her seventh baby at our hospital, so that brought in some more attention as well.”

The team is also currently working on leveraging some of the hospital’s sponsorships as a way to build more exposure.

“We sponsor a lot of different organizations and events in our community, and we’re tapping into them a bit more by becoming the co-host on their Facebook events,” Michelle said.

“That way, it shows up in both of our event calendars,” said Matt. “So, when individuals go to register for those events, they’re seeing our brand. It also gives us the ability to promote it.”

Matt said one of their most memorable campaigns in the past year was their Mother’s Day video series.

The team videotaped nurses talking about their mothers, thanking them, and sharing how they’ve impacted their lives — especially regarding their career choices.

“The four videos were emotional, short testimonial spots,” he said. “It got great engagement and won an award from the Mississippi Hospital Association’s Society for Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations.”

According to Michelle and Matt, the changes Facebook has recently made have posed a challenge for their team.

“We want to be able to take advantage of the changes they’re making,” Michelle said.

Matt emphasized how important it’s been to stay on top of Facebook’s changes from a recruitment perspective.

“Facebook’s recent change to their paid advertising policy has affected the way we advertise jobs, because we had to go from a targeted strategy to something more broad,” he said. “We knew it was coming but, like with anything on social media, you don’t know how it’ll affect you until it does.”

Overall, they’re pleased with how far the team and social media program have come in recent years.

“When we implemented our social media strategy years ago, we noticed an increase in the amount of people within the organization reaching out to us with content,” Michelle said. “Now, they ask us, ‘Can we start this Facebook Support Group?’ or ‘Can you post about this event or share this piece of content?’ It’s been great for helping us find stories to share on our social pages and through our other channels as well.”

She emphasized how proud she is of the team’s ability to always keep an eye out for new opportunities and ideas. “We do a great job of never getting too set in our ways,” she said.

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